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Tea sandwiches

With lunch at noon and dinner at eight, afternoon tea proved the perfect answer to snacking politely. Custom dictated that the sandwiches be made with two thin, crustless slices of bread with various fillings, approved by a hostess such as the Countess of Grantham.

Serves 4-6


■ Cucumber, thinly sliced

■ Salt and pepper

■ 8 thin slices of good-quality white bread

■ Unsalted butter, at room temperature

Put the cucumber slices into a sieve over a bowl, sprinkle lightly with salt, and leave to stand for 20 minutes. Then lay a few sheets of kitchen towel on a work surface, arrange the cucumber slices in a single layer on the paper and pat dry. Lay the bread slices on a chopping board and spread with butter. Arrange the cucumber slices, overlapping them, on 4 of the bread slices and sprinkle with pepper. Top with the remaining bread slices. Using a serrated knife, cut off the crusts from each sandwich, then cut the sandwiches into neat fingers.